Friday, July 16, 2010
Sky Bar out of touch with clientele on SB1070
What started as another xenophobic law proposed by wingnut Republican Russel Pearce, SB1070 could be labeled the Ultimate Law of Unintended Consequences.
In addition to helping our GED-toting, unelected governor vanquish her Republican primary opponents, the ill-conceived bill has become a national sensation, fodder for comedians, rationale for boycotts, and the deciding factor on where to buy pizza in Tucson.
In early July, the humanitarian group No More Deaths started We Mean Business, the business-friendly answer song to Congressman Raul Grijalva's call for boycotts of Arizona after passage of SB1070. Approximately 90 local businesses agreed to post anti-SB1070 We Mean Business or We Reject Racism signs in their establishments. The rationale was that flaming liberals like me who oppose SB1070 would know which businesses to frequent and which to... well... boycott. (For a list of these businesses and a map, click here.)
Given the huge economic impact of Mexican shoppers in Arizona-- $7.3 million per day-- it makes good business sense to oppose SB1070.
According to the No More Deaths website, businesses interested in participating in the We Reject Racism movement are asked to take the following three actions:
- Post the “We Reject Racism” sign to publicly oppose SB1070
- Not allow law enforcement into their business for the sole purpose of checking immigration status of people inside*
- Not financially supporting lawmakers who voted for SB1070
*Legally businesses have the right to prevent anyone from entering or ask them to leave. The exception for law enforcement is if they have a warrant for someone inside or believe an individual is an immediate danger to the public.
Tony Vaccaro, owner of Brooklyn's Pizza and the adjoining Sky Bar on 4th Avenue, was one of the Tucson businessmen who initially supported We Mean Business 2 weeks ago. In a turn of events, Vaccaro took the We Mean Business signs down this week and contacted the Arizona Daily Star stating his flip-flop support of SB1070.
Vaccaro is quoted in the Star as saying that after having read SB1070, he now agrees with it. The Star also quotes Vaccaro as saying, "...I do not believe that businesses should get involved in politics. That is for individuals, politicians and lobby groups. I feel that I have let some of my customers down by getting involved in the SB 1070 debate."
Businesses shouldn't get involved in politics? Has this guy been living in a cave? The corporatists control our elected officials, run our country-- and are trying to run our city!
I find it hard to believe that he really thinks he let his customers down by opposing SB1070 and racism. Vaccaro's 2 businesses-- Brooklyn's Pizza and Sky Bar-- are in the heart of the 4th Ave shopping district-- nestled between the University of Arizona, the downtown arts district, and Tucson High School (whose student population is less than 50% Anglo).
Personally, I liked (note the past tense) Sky Bar. The open, airy venue features affordable pizza and adult beverages, theme nights, eclectic live music, and dancing. The downtown crowd is far from white bread-- being diverse in race, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation. Vaccaro's new position on SB1070 is out of step with them.
Artists for Action, another anti-SB1070 movement that popped up in July, may give Vaccaro-- who hires dozens of musicians to play at his club and whose clientele includes local artists-- some heart burn.
Spearheaded by Calexico's John Convertino and Joey Burns, Artists for Action urges artists and musicians to take a stand against SB1070 and help educate the public. The group is not advocating boycotts; in fact, it is encouraging out-of-state musicians to come to Arizona and voice their opposition to SB1070 -- rather than boycotting in protest.
Who will win this tug of war? Hopefully, not the xenophobes or those who exploit immigrants (documented or not).